10 Every Black Belt Must Overcome During a Lean Transformation

Lean Transformation

10 Every Black Belt Must Overcome During a Lean Transformation


Nobody said Lean Transformations would be easy.  Below is a collection of notes during my Green Belt training.  I’m sure many of you would agree that these are obviously not only applicable to Black Belt or Master Black Belt, but on employees of all levels – maybe even in your personal life.


I’ve noticed throughout my nineteen years experience and in every office setting or work environment that the notes below regarding the psychology of change and resistance will greatly benefit anyone who takes the time to read, understand and


Lean Transformation

A Lean Transformation?


  1. Failure to finish

This happens because employees get tired and lost throughout the hectic year of meeting EBITDA targets.  As a result, they do not go fast enough or far enough


Achieving success requires Champions to:

    1. Be in place to reinforce and encourage the first few times the seeds of the change are planted
    2. Applaud the first few steps in their walk of faith
    3. Monitor process and communicating individual and
      collective improvement


  1. Failure to see

Is a function of entrenched, successful maps.  The more successful they are, the more blinding they are.  It takes high contrast and confrontation to break through and help employees conceive that the old right way is now wrong and to see the new vision


Heightening contrast and confrontations requires:

    • Focusing on the core differences
    • Juxtaposing their descriptions
    • Repeating the message and putting people in inescapable experiences to force the contrast


  1. Failure to move

Occurs because people are not motivated to go from doing the wrong thing well to doing the right thing poorly


It takes:

    • Ensuring that the target is clear
    • That the capabilities and tools are in place
    • And that rewards are provided in order for employees to believe that they can go from doing the right thing poorly to doing it well


  1. Failure to change


  1. Failure to complete projects – moving onto a new project or priority before the Lean transformation has been embraced.


  1. Failure to listen


  1. Not having a plan b, alternate plan, or alternate hypothesis (Null hypothesis vs. Alternate hypothesis, if the p is low, the null must go!).  Not recognizing alpha or beta risks in a key project or deliverable


  1. Not following through with a lessons learned meeting or follow-up up to six months after an important product release.


  1. Problem simplification – either over-simplifying a problem or not simplifying it enough.


  1. Not recognizing the human potential of cross-functional teams – not exploiting the talent and getting people to do what they most enjoy doing and what they’re best at.


There are four main ways resistance may appear during a Lean transformation:

  1. Direct and Conscious
  • Example:  A worker says, “I won’t do it that way because….,”
    and provides a cogent reason for the refusal
  • Example:  When workers oppose a change even though they are unsure of their own motives
  • Example:  This is true about manipulation and back room lobbying, while slowing down on the job
  • Example:  The genuine lethargy, incompetence, and pessimism that overtake some of us when we don’t believe in what we’re doing but can’t explain why
    1. Direct and Unconscious
    1. Indirect and Conscious
    1. Indirect and Unconscious


There are four main types resistance:

  1. Technical resistance during a Lean transformation may occur when:
    1. Six Sigma produces feelings of inadequacy or perception of incompetence in the stakeholder
    2. The know-how developed is now considered less valuable


  1. Political resistance may occur when:
    1. Their workplace social arrangement will be shifted negatively
    2. The stakeholder sees Six Sigma as a loss to him or her
    3. This loss could be real or perceived


  1. Organizational resistance may occur when:
    1. The stakeholder experiences issues relating to lessening of control or pride in their environment for product
    2. An effort to preserve those values, traditions, techniques, and organizational structures that are deemed valuable
    3. Old ways are considered preferable to the new ideas, methods, and programs being introduced


4. Individual resistance may occur when:

  1. Stakeholders experience fear and emotional paralysis
  2. This comes as a result of feeling overwhelmed and high levels
    of stress
  3. People may feel as though their livelihood is endangered


Reactions to Change


  1. Organizations are inherently social systems
  2. People have identities, relationships, communities, attitudes , emotions and differentiated powers
  3. Culture = stability, routine, predictability
  4. Rules of the game are now going to be different
  5. Three groups typically involved in a change initiative:
    1. Rank and File
    2. The Resisters
    3. The Change Agents
  6. Each has unique characteristics
  7. Each requires a different management style


Additional things you should know about change and resistance:


  1. Change and resistance go together – like a hand in glove
  2. Each is natural, pervasive, and universal
  3. Resistance is neither avoidable nor bad
  4. It is a fact of organizational life
  5. It must be managed, not avoided
  6. Resistance is feedback
  7. Feedback is information

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *